Every time a new study comes out that suggests dark chocolate is beneficial for health, chocolate lovers rejoice. It gives us a reason for guiltless indulgence. Dark chocolate, or specifically the flavanols in cocoa, can help fight flu, lowers stress, improve heart health, and may even make you more slim. It sounds like a miracle drug, doesn’t it? If it wasn’t for all the fat, sugar and calories associated with chocolate, maybe it actually would be.

Seattle Times reports that a study sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and Mars Inc. will take all the goodness of dark chocolate and put it in a pill form. The pills, which are packed with nutrients but not fat or sugar, will be tested on 18,000 men and women.

Part of the test will look to see if the chocolate pills help prevent heart attacks and strokes. Another part of the test will try to determine if a multivitamin can help prevent cancer.

You might be wondering why not just eat chocolate instead of taking a pill? It would be tastier and probably more fun, but it wouldn’t be possible to get the same health benefits. Flavanols are a specific type of flavonoid - a powerful antioxidant found in food. When cocoa is turned into chocolate, even the good, dark chocolate bars that I love to eat, the flavanols can lose much of their potency. In the pill form, the flavanols would be highly concentrated, providing benefits chocolate bars never could.

While theses pill probably won’t satiate anyone’s chocolate craving (they’re tasteless) they could prove to be very beneficial. It may not be as much fun to pop a pill as is to savor a square of Green & Black’s, but these pills could still have a place in people’s daily routines.

Or not. Study leader Dr. JoAnn Manson, preventive medicine chief at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, says it’s important to wait and see what the study finds.

“More is not necessarily better,” and research has shown surprising harm from some nutrients that once looked promising, she said.
What’s your favorite dark chocolate? Would you replace it or would you supplement your regular chocolate consumption with the flavanol-packed pill?

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

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